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Technology

There is fine line between hero and villain in data use

Information has been and will continue to be
Information has been and will continue to be the place where competitive advantage is gained, whether it is in the production or sales cycle. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Doing business in the modern world can be deemed as a treacherous pursuit. On one hand, you have an ever more discerning base of potential consumers constantly asking for more and better and on the other, you must continually think out of the box and innovate, deploying technology in most cases, to to bring to the fore this value sustainably, hopefully, profitable for the long term.

Information has been and will continue to be the place where competitive advantage is gained, whether it is in the production or sales cycle. It would, therefore, suffice to say that it is in the best interests of any business to collect as much data as possible from its universe and leverage it for good.

However, it is in the definition of ‘good’ that paths diverge, depending of course on your world view on data privacy, ownership and value extraction.

So today, I ask questions for which in my opinion there are no absolute answers unless tapered further by filters and conditions, but should make for honest reflection and perhaps trigger an inflection point in your school of thought or discourse.

Is the collection of citizen data by a government towards a social score that underpins the nudging of its society towards desired actions agreeable or pointing to the nefarious? Is the use of personal preferences in the crafting of messages that resonate and drive purchase decisions good or bad?

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Is the analysis of transaction data from a small business enterprise to offer bespoke capital options a step in the right direction? Is the use of data to micro-target a populace with information of political implication to be frowned upon? What about the creation and commercialisation of biobanks to lead the charge in customised healthcare interventions?

The ‘yes, but’ answer that formed in your mind, points to the fluid nature of all arguments when it comes to the place of data in modern-day business.

There is indeed a fine line between being viewed as a hero or villain in the use of data that is either readily available or information gleaned by following signals and filtering out the noise.

There are as many definitions of good, as there are people in the world and it is near impossible to satisfy all conditions for correctness.

Here’s to being both hero and villain in your innovative pursuits for a better world.

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